CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – More than 100 parents are demanding answers from the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System (CMCSS) after their youth football league was told it could not use school facilities after seven years.
The Clarksville Greyhound Youth Football and Cheerleading League serves around 150 children ages five to 14 years old in its summer football league.
The league was started by a Clarksville mother Toni Johnson as a way to improve competition among other football leagues and provide an outlet for children to do something productive over the summer.
“My mom did this out of the kindness of her heart she never got paid,” Johnson’s son Kyle Reid said. “We just saw that kids in Clarksville needed something new.”
Reid and his two brothers were among the first league members.
“These are lessons being learned here that don’t just apply to football but to life,” he said.
The league was notified that due to an unpaid custodial bill last season, they would not be allowed to use the facilities at Northeast High School for practice or games.
The decision leaves the youth league on hold for the upcoming summer.
“They did not pay a bill,” CMCSS Assistant Communication Director Andrew Pitt said. “In order for us to maintain our facilities, they need to be cleaned and so when they didn’t pay the bill they were told they could not use the facility.”
Parents told News 2 the league is a non-profit organization and the bill, which was for $140, was sent to the wrong address.
However, the school district is requiring the league to partner with a PTO or booster club and charge admission to defray the cost of custodial services.
“With the booster club plan, the money will flow that way instead of us hiring a custodian after the fact the school system has to pay and then later bill the organization,” Pitt said. “The booster club will be in charge of making sure the facility is clean.”
But charging an admission fee violates the founding guidelines of the football league.
“Our bi-laws state that we cannot charge admission,” Greyhounds’ Vice President Kim Linton said. “The only admission that we charge is jamboree, playoffs and the championship.”
She continued, “There are a lot of families that can’t afford for their kids to play in the other leagues.”
The CMCSS told News 2 the change is needed to insure custodial services are paid on time.
The Greyhounds do not charge admission for regular season games because the league works to include children and families who may not be able to afford to play football or cheer otherwise.
Registration has already started for the upcoming season and the coaches said not settling this dispute would be devastating to the children and parents who participate.
“It hurts knowing that we have kids who want to play and have been with the league the number of years they have,” parent and league coach Alan Rawleigh said. “Now we are jeopardy of not having a season.”
Rawleigh added that the players get more out of participating than the athletics.
“You look at their faces and you can really tell they enjoy it,” he said. “As we start getting games, they travel and they start winning the kids start feeling good about themselves as a team.”
Linton also said other CMCSS facilities are also not responding to requests to use their facilities.
The league has started exploring facilities just over the state line in Kentucky as well as other fields in Clarksville, but the other fields they’ve found are already in use by other athletic programs.